It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Racquel! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Thank you for having me! I’m Racquel Marie, a 2022 debut author who mainly writes YA contemporaries featuring queer Latine characters like myself.
How would you describe Ophelia After All in one sentence?
Ophelia After All is a coming out/of age story about a hopeless romantic known for constantly crushing on boys who begins to question her sexuality and sense of self when she starts falling for a girl in the weeks leading up to their senior prom.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Ophelia After All?
The main character of Ophelia After All is Ophelia Rojas, a hopeless romantic, rose gardening chismosa who has a close bond with her parents and longtime best friends. Some other central characters are Ophelia’s parents, her best friends Sammie (sarcastic, lovably annoying) and Agatha (driven, loyal), and her new crush, Talia (shy, sincere). It’s a big cast though, so I won’t introduce them all!
What representation will readers find in Ophelia After All?
Some of the character’s sexualities aren’t discussed until further into the book, but I don’t consider representation a spoiler, so of the more central cast: Ophelia is Cuban/Irish American and queer, Talia is Black, Puerto Rican, and bisexual, Sammie is Pakistani American and questioning, Agatha is Black and aromantic, Wesley is Korean American and biromantically asexual, and Zaq is Black and pansexual.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I generally don’t outline/plan my books, but the climax and ending are usually the first things I come up with when brainstorming. Oftentimes, I figure out a few key plot points and let my characters roam about from one point to the next when drafting, then polish up that journey in revisions.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
A quote I didn’t appreciate as much until someone I met on my book tour asked me to write it in their copy is: “But I’m loved already, right here, right now.” It’s a simple line, but embodies a lot of the struggle Ophelia deals with throughout the book—both in respect to her sexuality and worrying it’ll change her close relationships, as well as the myth that romantic love is the thing she needs to validate her self-worth and queer identity.
What is something readers will find in Ophelia After All that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
I’ve talked about this a lot online, but Ophelia After All isn’t a romance. While Ophelia’s journey of questioning her sexuality is brought forth by crushing on another girl, the main focus of the book is on that journey rather than that crush. I love romance and my 2023 book is one, but Ophelia After All is a coming of age story that falls into the contemporary fiction genre and I want readers to have that expectation so they’re not let down by the story being a different genre than they assumed.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from Ophelia After All?
I really just hope readers come away from reading Ophelia After All feeling a sense of comfort. One of my favorite compliments is when people describe this book as a warm hug, which is especially nice given how many people have told me they cried when reading it. This book is about a girl working toward embracing self-love amidst a flurry of change and uncertainty about her life, so I hope readers keep that with them long after they turn the final page in her story.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Ophelia After All?
If someone enjoyed Ophelia After All, I think they’d also really love Fifteen Hundred Miles From The Sun by Jonny Garza Villa, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, and This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’m featured in two anthologies publishing in the coming months—Our Shadows Have Claws in September & Study Break in early 2023—and really excited for people to read my short stories in both! Right now I’m finishing up copyedits for my sophomore novel, You Don’t Have a Shot, that’ll be out in spring of 2023 and follows sapphic childhood soccer rivals who reluctantly team up to salvage their athletic futures (and then fall in love).
ABOUT THE BOOK
A teen girl navigates friendship drama, the end of high school, and discovering her queerness in Ophelia After All, a hilarious and heartfelt contemporary YA debut by author Racquel Marie.
Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.
So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Racquel Marie received a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in gender and sexuality studies from the University of California, Irvine. Racquel primarily writes YA contemporaries starring queer Latine characters like herself. You can learn more about her writing and love of books through her Twitter, @blondewithab00k. She is the author of Ophelia After All and You Don’t Have a Shot.